Business leaders today called on companies and organizations around the world to embrace the next generation of the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Reporting Guidelines – G4. G4 was unveiled before an audience of 1,600 thought leaders and practitioners from around the globe at GRI’s 2013 Global Conference today. Experienced reporters welcomed the publication of the Guidelines as a major step forward in the evolution of sustainability reporting.
Marina Migliorato, Head of CSR at leading Italian power company Enel, said: “To pursue a new sustainable business model, companies need to integrate CSR into their strategy. It is a long journey, but with G4, GRI has provided us with a milestone to achieve this challenging goal.”
Christian Mouillon, Global Vice Chair – Assurance at Ernst & Young, commented: “One of the key benefits of the new G4 Guidelines is their redefined focus on disclosure of material issues. This step will increase the transparency and value of sustainability reporting for stakeholders and provide a more accessible framework for organizations, particularly those who have not previously reported.”
Christianna Wood, President and CEO at US capital investment company Gore Creek Capital, said: “As global investors push for greater transparency on environmental, social and governance disclosure, only GRI and G4 provide global comparability formulated by a stakeholder based consultative approach. G4 brings sustainability reporting to a new, higher global common denominator.”
And Kim Hessler, Director of Citizenship at General Electric, added: “In the world of business, what gets measured, gets done. The G4 Guidelines highlight what needs to be done to influence ESG sustainability in a positive direction.”
The latest evolution of the GRI Guidelines – part of the most widely used comprehensive sustainability reporting framework in the world – enable all companies and organizations to report on their economic, environmental, social and governance performance. G4 has been significantly revised and enhanced in order to reflect important current and future trends in the sustainability reporting landscape.
By placing an even greater emphasis on the concept of materiality, G4 will encourage reporting organizations to provide only disclosures and indicators that are material to their business, on the basis of a dialogue with their stakeholders. This will allow reporting organizations and report users alike to concentrate on the economic, environmental, and social impacts that really matter, resulting in reports that are more strategic, more focused and more credible, as well as easier for stakeholders to navigate.
Nelmara Arbex, Deputy Chief Executive at GRI, who has led the development of G4, said: “In today’s world, the increasing demand for sustainability information is inevitable. Increasingly governments, stock exchanges, investors, and society at large are calling on companies to be transparent about their sustainability goals and performance. But this demand is also a demand for sustainability related information that matters. This is what G4 is about.
“The robust sustainability report of today must be far more than a compliance exercise. It is a tool for demonstrating the effort reporters have made in integrating sustainability into their core business strategy, with benefits for business and society alike.
“The GRI Guidelines are designed to support organizations in this strategic journey – to help them to measure and manage change, and to communicate their understanding about the connections between sustainability and business.
“By reporting based on G4, organizations can identify critical risks and main opportunities, which will spark operational improvement and innovation, focused on what really matters.”
The launch of G4 marks the culmination of two years of extensive stakeholder consultation and dialogue as part of a strict and transparent due process. Working Groups from across the world, comprising 120 specialists from constituencies as diverse as field experts, labor, business and civil society, have contributed. Two public consultation periods in 2011 and 2012 generated a total of more than 2,500 responses.
GRI Chief Executive Ernst Ligteringen added: “The G4 Guidelines are unique; they are created in consultation with hundreds of experts from around the world, through an inclusive process that captures input and ideas from thousands of individuals and organizations. These contributors draw on their collective knowledge and cumulative experience, to connect the best practices of the past with new solutions with which to tackle the challenges of the future. This is the time to focus our efforts and resources on what really matters and what needs to change.”
In addition to enhancing the relevance and quality of standalone sustainability reports, G4 will be a powerful tool for generating material sustainability information for inclusion in integrated reports.
Other key enhancements in G4 include increased user-friendliness and greater accessibility for those new to reporting, and harmonization with other important global frameworks, including the OECD MNE Guidelines, the United Nations Global Compact Principles, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.